US 20: Keep on trucking (#4)

Written by David Green.

By LISA KLOK

It wasn’t until after World War II that full trailer and semi trailer trucks became the preferred method of shipping.

They certainly were around before then. Motorized trucks were used during the 1920s to transport goods, and they became even more popular in the 1930s.

However, after the war, it was more economical for producers to ship their goods by truck than by railroad.

trucker-3 Of course, the trucks then were far smaller than the big rigs used today. And usually, the companies had their own trucks. Today, companies hire independent trucking companies, such as USF Holland Motor Express and Eagle Transport, to haul their goods.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to see a semi truck traveling through Fayette. Follow the trafic on U.S. 20 for a minute or two and you’re bound to see a semi or a seires of semis come through.

John, a driver for JS Transport, explained why Fayette has such a heavy flow of trucks cruising through town, which can be summed up in one word: tolls.

John said Ohio has one of the highest toll rates for semi trucks. The rates are based on the trucks’ weight and he said that drivers usually have to pay between $40 and $70 just to travel the stretch of highway through Ohio one way.

“That’s almost a day’s pay for some guys, and that only covers one state,” John said.

Even though it’s slower to travel U.S. 20 than the toll road, he thinks he would still do so even if the tolls were not as expensive.

“I like driving through here. It’s a nice drive. I think of it as my quiet time,” he said.

There’s no denying that semis are a natural part of the U.S. 20 landscape, but just who and what is coming through town?

WHO AND WHAT—Pretty much anything you can think that is shipped by truck makes its way through Fayette. Cheese, meat, clothing, paper products, oil, automobiles, automobile parts, milk and grain are just a few of the products coming through town.

“You probably get a lot of trucks carrying produce through here because it’s all coming from the midwest to the east coast,” John said.

He would know. John lives in Nebraska and has driven through Fayette several times. Recently, he was traveling through Fayette from Chicago with turkey and ham cold cuts on his way to unload in New Jersey and Massachusetts.

“I’ll carry anything, but I usually carry a lot of produce,” he said.

Tony, a driver for Anthony Trucking, is very familiar with Fayette; although Fayette may not be very familiar with him.

Tony said he travels through Fayette usually twice a week. Recently, he was carrying a load of pork, chicken and cheese from Wisconsin and Chicago. He was headed to Maryland.

“I usually go to Pennsylvania or New York, but not this time,” he said.

Although not from town, Tony’s a regular at the R & H Restaurant; he said he stops there at least once a week.

More familiar with Fayette is Larry Kunkle, a local driver who delivers grain to nearby businesses.

But not everyone is as familiar with the village as Tony and Larry.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been here,” said Gerald, a Tennessee native.

And what was he carrying? Absolutely nothing.

“I just unloaded a shipment at the plastic company,” he said. He was driving to Niles to pick up another load and then he was headed to Florida.

And of course, there are the occasional visitors, drivers not familiar and not unfamiliar with Fayette.

Mark, a driver from Idaho says he usually runs a shipment of cheese to Buffalo, New York once a month.

And Harry, who drives for DeBacker Farms, said he comes through Fayette twice a week for four months of the year with potatoes from the Upper Peninsula.

You might just eat one of those potatoes. The Michigan native said his spuds will eventually end up in Campbell’s Soup products.

So regardless of whether you notice the trucks, remember this: What’s coming through Fayette may just end up in your house, on your body or in your mouth. It’s a vital ribbon of pavement that adds flavor to Fayette.

- March 31,2004 
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